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Oct 22,2021

Shortage of drivers in Europe reaches critical threshold

The shortage of European drivers is reaching a critical point, and the shortage of truck drivers is reaching a critical point, especially in Europe. A factor that should affect the evolution of transportation prices.


This is a saying we have heard for many years: road transportation has been short of labor for a long time. But it seems that we are now reaching a critical threshold. In March last year, an IRU study found a severe shortage worldwide. In Europe, according to a survey released by the Air Freight services transportation intelligence agency in August last year, there appears to be a shortage of more than 400,000 drivers.


Future tenders will be affected by inflation.


Professional organizations and institutions are mobilizing to find new sources of recruitment. The department is working hard to encourage the feminization of the workforce. This approach seems to have achieved some success in the United States. Their proportion has increased from 3% to 11%. However, current working conditions do not seem to be able to seduce target audiences on a large scale, at least not in Europe. Now another group has been identified: the immigrant group. IRU initiated an initiative to raise awareness among European institutions on measures to attract and train legal immigrants to become road drivers. But all these steps will take time, and in the near future, the pressure will be great, as the current supply disruption in the UK shows. As a result, the traditional logic of supply and demand is taking over and is under pressure to implement salary increases.


A few years ago, Eastern European countries had begun to raise wages. Today, the UK has the largest increase. Some companies offer recruitment bonuses of £1,000 and salary increases of up to 15% to retain their drivers. This trend can only spread throughout Western Europe. The Dutch trade union has achieved a 3.5% overall wage increase in July 2021, and plans to achieve a 3.25% increase in January 2022. Therefore, this sentiment is obviously inflationary.


Air freight services


In an article published on September 3, Lithuanian carrier Girteka Logistics announced the "Difficult European Tender Season" in the fourth quarter of 2021, which will be affected by the shortage of drivers and the new rules under the mobile package from February 21, 2022 . Luis Gomez, president of XPO Logistics Europe, confirmed this diagnosis in an interview with the Financial Times quoted on the Trans.Info website. Gomez estimates that driver wages will grow close to or reach double digits, and road transport prices will rise at least in the next 18 months. Our latest Upply / Ti European Road Transport Price Barometer shows that this trend has begun.


Therefore, it does not rule out the assumption that the shipper will have to go through the road transport experience experienced in maritime transport in the past 18 months, that is, a lower level of service at a higher cost. This obviously breaks the dynamics we have observed in the past 40 years.


Country situation:


The following table is taken from a study by the Transportation Intelligence Agency on the shortage of truck drivers and details the situation in each country. Poland was the worst affected, followed by the United Kingdom. Next came Germany and France, with employment gaps ranging from 40,000 to 60,000, followed by Spain and Italy, each with a gap of around 15,000. Therefore, according to a study published by CNR in 2020, Spain appears to be relatively spared, as the estimated demand accounts for only 6% of the total number of 250,000 drivers recorded in the country in 2018. However, the country represents the second largest road freight market in Europe in terms of transport ton-kilometers, behind Germany and ahead of France.


Air freight services


Poland is suffering


Poland is the sick man of Europe. It is estimated that more than 120,000 drivers are still missing! In our February 2020 article entitled "The Melancholy of Polish Transporters Should Be Short-lived", we are already talking about this phenomenon. It is expected to be 100,000-110,000 in 2015, and the driver shortage is expected to reach the 200,000 mark in 2022. The training of new drivers or the use of drivers from third countries are not sufficient to replace retirees.


This poses a very serious threat to the country's economy, because as of today, the transportation and Air freight services logistics sectors account for nearly 7% of Poland's GDP (the trade balance alone has a surplus of more than 10 billion euros). Over the past 10 years, the Polish flag industry has experienced tremendous growth, competing with Germany for the first place. It also reached the top of the podium in 2017.


The specific situation in the UK


The UK is also working hard to solve the problem of driver shortage. The country has recently made headlines due to a shortage of shops, gas stations and restaurants. The driver availability issue is not the only cause, but it undoubtedly played a role.